Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood” as Want to Read:
Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  429 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Rereleased to coincide with Ed Wood, a Tim Burton movie based on the book, this authoritative underground biography brings to life the renegade filmmaker who broke new ground in absurd supernatural horror and campy suspense. The author recalls the '50s, when the invasion of movie houses by monsters became a national youth craze. 140 photos.
Paperback, 231 pages
Published November 1st 1994 by Feral House (first published January 1st 1992)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nightmare of Ecstasy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nightmare of Ecstasy

Legally Blonde by Amanda BrownEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Christopher GrauCatch Me If You Can by Frank W. AbagnaleBambi by Felix SaltenArgo by Antonio J. Mendez
I had no idea that movie was based on a book.
79th out of 149 books — 46 voters
Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph GreyEd Wood by Scott AlexanderHollywood Rat Race by Ed WoodEd Wood's Sleaze Paperbacks by Ed WoodFly by Night by E.N. McMahon
Ed Wood and Co.
1st out of 10 books — 2 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sean
Apr 30, 2008 Sean rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who don't even know who Ed Wood was.
I found the format of this book to be very annoying. There is no narrative, only excerpts from interviews taken from various people on various areas of Ed Wood's life. If you are a fan of Ed Wood the film then most of the information in this book will not be new to you. I was expecting a lot more from this book and it did not deliver. I would only suggest reading this if you absolutely do not know anything about Ed Wood. If you are already familiar with Mr. Wood I'd steer clear of this one.
Brian
Oct 28, 2010 Brian rated it liked it
While this book calls itself the "authoritative biography," it's really just a collection of interviews with people who knew Ed Wood and worked with him.Having said that, if you only know Ed from Tim Burton's wonderful biopic, then get ready to have your eyes opened. Certainly, Ed was a compulsive filmmaker -- he loved writing, producing and directing his own stuff, and his enthusiasm for his work is inspiring -- but he lived and drank hard, eventually spiralling into making sleazy porn flicks ...more
Andy
Nov 19, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: psychotronic movie fans!
Shelves: hollywoodbabylon
Great book, even if you hate Ed Wood movies there's still tons of great photos and greater stories of the sleazy B-movie craze of the 1950's. Not as cuddly as the Johnny Depp portrayal, he pretty much became a Bukowski stew-bum drunk in the Hollywood scene in the 1970's writing porn. This book never gets boring!
Tom
Feb 07, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing
A joy to read. If you have any interest at all in the films of Edward D. Wood, Jr., this is an essential part of your library. Filled with great interviews and illustrations.
Stephen
Jan 06, 2010 Stephen rated it really liked it
As a fan of bad / low-budget movies, I became a aware of Ed Wood's odd work in my early 20s.

To say that some people are fans of Ed Wood specifically isn't really the case. That would be like saying there are actually people out there who are fans of generic, knock-off toys found in the dollar stores across the land. No one really wants that stuff, but sometimes you just end up with it in front of you instead of the good stuff, and sometimes those second-rate items can be fun enough to play with
...more
Clare O'Beara
Feb 22, 2016 Clare O'Beara rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, america-fact
A friend who liked the cult black and white B movies loaned me this book. The photos were surprising; a film director wearing fluffy angora sweaters, the standard horror scenes and actors we expect of the genre.

The research was mainly a collection of conversations with people who had known Wood and acted in his low-budget, swiftly filmed, films which had little continuity. The list of films includes 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'. By the end however the stars had continued to work while Wood was sin
...more
C. Hall
Apr 20, 2009 C. Hall rated it really liked it
A fascinating exploration of the life, career, and bizarre social circle of one of the more infamously-untalented filmmakers in the history of film, Nightmare of Ecstasy is also the chronicle of a man who failed at virtually everything he ever did, yet found a posthumous niche as a pop culture icon. The narrative here is disseminated in pieces, fragmentary bits of first-person recollections from Wood's friends and co-workers. The book is unflinching, and makes no effort to whitewash Wood's ...more
NumberLord
May 28, 2007 NumberLord rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ed Wood fans
Shelves: humor
If you're a fan of movies that are so bad, they're good, then you've probably heard of Ed Wood.
I didn't care much for the way this book was written: much of it is a collection of quotes/reminisences thrown together. I like the fact that the book gives a detailed filmography of Wood's "oeuvre" but I would have preferred more prose throughout.
Andy
Dec 06, 2007 Andy rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is fun if you like Ed Wood, but it's just clips from interviews with no overarching narrative. And towards the end I noticed tons of typos. Actually, it's a pretty crappy book, but Ed Wood is pretty crappy too, so it fits.
ein Leichter
Apr 18, 2007 ein Leichter rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in Ed Wood
If you saw the movie you only got half of the story.
Michael
Nov 03, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Psychotronics fans, film buffs, oral historians
Recommended to Michael by: Damon Houx
I was in the camp of “Ed Wood was a great artist” long before the Tim Burton biopic came out, but I didn’t get around to reading this, the book on which that movie is based, until several years later. It is the ultimate fan-project, filled with the adoration Grey felt for his unlikely hero, and demonstrating years of obsessive hounding of anyone who had ever known the man. It is filled with fascinating anecdotes and photographs, and entertainingly written. I can’t imagine anyone reading it and ...more
Michael Mallory
Apr 17, 2014 Michael Mallory rated it liked it
When "Nightmare of Ecstasy" first came out more than twenty years ago, many readers objected to its rather revolutionary approach of assembling a long list of memories and stories from those who knew Ed Wood, Jr., creator of such deathless anti-classics as "Plan 9 From Outer Space," rather than writing his story in a cohesive narrative. Today, though, this format has become a fairly common device for a film-related book, particularly a marketing-tool film-related book. But "Nightmare of Ecstasy" ...more
Sir Michael Röhm
Jan 28, 2013 Sir Michael Röhm rated it really liked it
Shelves: film
Ed Wood is commonly known among cinema buffs as the director of the "worst films in history."

This designation makes me wonder if those buffs have ever seen Armageddon, ID4, and similar fare.

Grey's book paints a different picture of Wood - not as the maker of "bad films," but as a passionate and imaginative man who had vision, but never had the funds to truly realise that vision. His most infamous "bad movie," Plan 9 From Outer Space, was only realised by Wood and the cast converting to a Souther
...more
Melissa Becker
Dec 23, 2013 Melissa Becker rated it it was amazing
Ed Wood was a terrible filmmaker. But unlike so many terrible filmmakers (Michael Bay, McG, etc.) Wood had passion for his crap. He wasn't just in it for the paycheck, he really loved what he did. That love comes through in every frame of his movies, which is why they hold up better than his sets (which sometimes are falling apart during scenes).

This is a book about Ed, the worst director of all-time (or at least until Tommy Wiseau). It's also about his friends- a collection of weirdos that incl
...more
Russell Grant
Nov 01, 2014 Russell Grant rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best bio's I've read. It's an oral history, so all the narrative is taken from first person recollections. The first half or so is giddy in it's detailing of Wood's start from war hero to z-movie maker. It's the period covered by Tim Burton in his film, and as great as that movie is (arguably the greatest film about the movies ever made) it's nowhere near as bizarre and wonky as real life. The second, post "Plan 9 From Outer Space" period, is as heartbreaking and sad a ...more
John
Sep 29, 2012 John rated it liked it
Just finished this book. The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film only shows about 10% of Ed Wood's life. This book is really interesting in that it is an oral history of Ed Wood's Life, films and career by his friends family and actors. Some of the info may be sentimentalized in that the interviewees are recalling incidents from the 50's and 60's. Honestly , it's like a John Waters movie. You read in amazement about " The World's Worst Film Director". And nobody in this book denies that. The cheapness ...more
Ethan
Dec 06, 2013 Ethan rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating look at a cultural icon. It's funny and tragic at the same time. The format is a bit odd -- it's basically a collection of quotes from folks who knew Ed Wood, either professionally or personally. The author arranged the quotes loosely by subject and timeline. Unfortunately there is very little narrative -- just a bunch of quotes -- and I wished for at least a little bit of connective tissue between the anecdotes.

I've seen Plan 9 from Outer Space and the movie Ed Wood. Now,
...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
Jun 27, 2008 Noran Miss Pumkin rated it liked it
Recommends it for: ed wood fans
Recommended to Noran by: myself/JF
Shelves: biography
This is a heady read, of a troubled life. i do recommend you see one of his films first before reading this book. NOT the depp film, though i adore it and saw it 5 times when it came out. at the same time, in san fran--they showed Wood's other fims--so a friend took me to several i had not seen before. both together then prepare you for this book. drink destoried this man, who only had a dream to make movies and live a good life. this shows how you can go for the dream and end up in the sewer, ...more
Rob Foster
Feb 10, 2015 Rob Foster rated it it was amazing
Basically an oral history of not just one of Hollywood's most noted eccentrics, but almost of Hollywood's whole wide subculture landscape from the lurid to the laughable. Told with a degree of reverence for its wild subject, this is one of those rare works of which one may simply pick up and begin reading from any page, and be instantly captivated, transported to a strange, compelling alternate universe of madly driven kook-artists and their cadres of starry-eyed, hopeless hangers-on. A ...more
Jean-Pierre Vidrine
Jun 20, 2015 Jean-Pierre Vidrine rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating read about a most fascinating (and sad) figure in movie history. The interview format makes for nice break from typical biographies, though it can be a little hard to keep track of who's who and how they're connected with the Ed Wood. Near the end, as the subject gets closer to Wood's end, things get really depressing. The bibliography and filmography at the end are, on their own, interesting reading. There is a lot of eye popping and bemused head shaking to be had while ...more
Peter
Apr 14, 2008 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hilarious and sad. Moving. Chilling. Blah, blah, blah, I wish more biographies were like this one. Read it.


-Actually it's not really much of a biography but rather a collection of people's memories of the demented Ed Wood.

It's amazing how well the individual mini-tales combine to paint a portrait of perhaps the most deluded and most creative man ever in Hollywood.

Many of the stories conflict with each other and you hardly ever get any hard facts about Ed Wood, but it gives sad and beaut
...more
Jordan
Nov 08, 2012 Jordan rated it really liked it
This book really is the DNA of Burton’s Ed Wood film. It shares the same affectionate yet honest portrayal of the many-have-said world’s worst filmmaker. Written using first-hand accounts, the reader gets sometimes conflicted accounts of Ed Wood, though the author warns his readers from the get-go to expect this. Unlike Tim Burton’s film, the book follows Ed Wood to his sad, alcoholic, poverty-row end.
Jeb
Feb 27, 2008 Jeb rated it really liked it
The story of eccentric schlock filmmaker, Edward D. Wood. A fascinating read on one of the stranger characters that inhabited the fringes of the American film industry. The anecdotes are funny, affectionate, and ultimately sad as we witness his rise (if you can call it that) and fall as told by those that knew and worked with him.

Essential reading for lovers of schlock/cult films or those with a fondness for those that wander the outskirts of society.
Derek Tatum
Feb 14, 2013 Derek Tatum rated it really liked it
I just finished this oral history of the life and career of Edward D. Wood, Jr. It was the first book I have ever read in this format, and to be honest the number of different voices made it a little tough going. Essential for fans of Wood or those interested in the underbelly of 1050's-'70's Hollywood. Tragic ending, too — he seemed like a pretty nice, exuberant guy early in life, but he died a paranoid, alcoholic pornographer.
Bill
Aug 07, 2007 Bill rated it liked it
An interesting recollection of the life and movies of Ed Wood, told through first hand accounts from people who knew and worked with him, but if you're expecting the sort of happy-ish ending from the Tim Burton movie, well, prepare yourself to be kind of depressed by the end.
Mike Hunchback
Jul 13, 2015 Mike Hunchback rated it it was amazing
As major a work as there could ever be ... Devastating, hilarious, brazen and more researched than a freaking encyclopedia.

There's a significant "before and after" in biographies, and it's because of this book.
Joel Manuel
Oct 15, 2011 Joel Manuel rated it it was amazing
Hilarious & heartbreaking oral history (fittingly) of one of filmdom's worst, yet most dedicated, filmmakers. Be sure to read the deliciously perverse appendixes, which cover Wood's known books, movies, and scripts.
Joseph McGee
May 15, 2012 Joseph McGee rated it liked it
Kind of disjointed and sporadic, but still enlightening as to the sad, fascinating, and unfulfilled potential of Edward D. Wood Jr. A worthy read to get a glimpse inside the life of the late "B" movie giant.
John
Mar 31, 2010 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a fantastic expose of the infamous director and writer Ed Wood, Jr. Told through bits and pieces of interviews with those who know him, this tragic and frenzied true story of a fringe artist is compelling and fascinating. For all fans of B-Movies, Ed Wood and exploitation.
Chris
Jun 02, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
interesting book I picked up around the time "Ed Wood" (starring Johnny Depp) came out in the early nineties..
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film
  • Midnight Movies
  • Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen
  • How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime
  • Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema
  • Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies that Changed History
  • They Live
  • Incredibly Strange Films
  • Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir
  • Conversations with Wilder
  • Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
  • Cronenberg on Cronenberg
  • Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror
  • Videohound's Cult Flicks and Trash Pics
  • This Is Orson Welles
  • The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt
  • Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents
  • Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film

Share This Book